3 charged in Wayne County jail project investigation

Carla Sledge, Steven Collins, Anthony Parlovecchio all indicted

DETROIT – Three people have been charged in connection to the failed Wayne County Jail project.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L Worthy announced Monday misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty charges against former county chief financial officer Carla Sledge, county assistant corporation counsel Steven M. Collins and jail project contractor Anthony Parlovecchio.

Special Section: Wayne County Jail Investigation

Sledge is facing two felony counts of misconduct in office and two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty as a public officer. The 62-year-old was the CFO for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano from 2005 to 2013. Worthy said she's accused of intentionally giving false or misleading information about the jail project to the Wayne County Commission and Wayne County Building Authority between October 2010 and June 2013.

"I am disappointed in the charges and look forward to defending her," said attorney Harold Gurewitz.

Collins, 53, is charged with two felony counts of misconduct in office and two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty as a public officer. Like Sledge, he is also accused of providing false or misleading information to the commission and building authority.

Parlovecchio, 65, is charged with one misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty as a public officer. He was hired as an outside contractor to oversee the $100 million jail project. He was responsible for making sure contractors completed their jobs on time and on budget. He's accused of failing to give honest information to the building authority.

"This has been a long and arduous undertaking. The one man grand jury was necessary to ensure that the process was impartial, fair, and free from politics. Because the charges were issued as an indictment, this matter will proceed directly to circuit court for arraignment and then to trial. The same law that provides for convening the grand jury also prohibits me from speaking about its proceedings; the details will come out in court.  I will not have any interviews because the investigation into the Wayne County Jail is continuing," Worthy said.

Ben Gonek is an attorney representing Parlovecchio. He said his client is not the bad guy here. Gonek said when Parlovecchio was in charge the jail project was on time and on budget.

"When his contract was illegally terminated by the Ficano administration, that's when the project went to hell. That's when costs skyrocketed and that's when they put people to oversee the project that had no knowledge of the construction business," said Gonek. "So I don't understand how they are charging Mr. Parlovecchio."

The investigation:

In September 2013, Worthy petitioned the Third Circuit Court for Wayne County to convene a one-man grand jury citing the need to conduct a thorough and unhampered investigation of the stalled Wayne County Jail project. The petition was triggered by Wayne County Auditor General Willie Mayo's Aug. 16, 2013 audit and report of the Wayne County Consolidated Jail Project.

On Sept.19, 2013, the court granted the petition and convened a one-man grand jury to investigate public official willful neglect of duty, conspiracy, fraud, misconduct, false statements relating to public finances and/or financial conditions related to the jail project. 

The grand jury reviewed 140,000 pages of documents, entered 150 exhibits into evidence, and examined 26 witnesses.